From Wikipedia,: A Roman dodecahedron or Gallo-Roman dodecahedron is a small hollow object made of copper alloy which has been cast into a regular dodecahedral shape: twelve flat pentagonal faces, each face having a circular hole of varying diameter in the middle, the holes connecting to the hollow center. Roman dodecahedra date from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD and range from about 2-4 inches across.
The Roman dodecahedron remains a mystery, and no one really knows what they are.
A couple of years ago when I first learned of these objects I immediately had a pretty good idea as to what they really are. Now, with getting more and more bothered by what’s going on in the world of health related topics, I thought it’s time to take a departure from them here on this blog and discuss something else for once.
There are a number of prevailing theories as to what Roman dodecahedron were used for. One is that they were somehow a range finder device. Another one is that they were used for knitting gloves. But, I don’t think either is correct.
If someone has a really wild imagination, they might think these are 3-D bronze models of corona viruses as theorized by ancient Roman virologists. Although that would correctly put the ancient level of virology science on par with that of current modern-day virologists; no, that’s not it either.
One major clue we have is that some of the dodecahedrons have been found to have a wax residue in their central cavity.
So, what are they? I think they are simply little portable camp stoves used by soldiers while travelling and when stationed at their outposts. The camp stove would have been mostly fueled by a wax candle set up within the hollow core.
The dodecahedrons are actually a bit ingenious too. The shape allows the candle’s flame to be shielded from the wind. The various sized holes would have accommodated different sized candles with different heating capacities. The other holes around the perimeter provide lots of air flow to the burning candle.
The stand-off knobs around the perimeter allow a small pot or cup to be held above the candle’s flame and allow the heat to be more evenly distributed over the bottom surface of the pot. The dodecahedrons can simply be rotated and stood-up on the most appropriate size opening for the cooking task at hand. Say, using a smaller candle for just heating a cup of water and a larger one used for cooking a small meal. So, the dodecahedrons are miniature versions of modern day cooking ranges where we have a number of different and variable sized burners. But, the dodecahedrons are in a nice small portable package that would have been easily carried in a Roman soldier’s pack.
I happen to have a modern day version of a portable camp stove..
Of course, this unit is fueled by propane gas and not a candle.
Anyways, please have a think about it and share your thoughts as to what you think the Roman dodecahedron are.